Friday 24 September 2010

Ushaw College Photo Essay Number Two (posted 02/05/2010)

As I was saying ....

...... there are four storeys to the College main front.  On the ground floor, the window to the right of the front door looks into Ted Stone's office.  The next two windows are for the Professors' Parlour.  It was in this room that the body of any College priest who had died was laid out and all students were encouraged to view the body and offer prayers for the deceased.  As I recall, there were three deaths in my time: Monsignor Corbishley, President for my first few years, Canon Billy Dunne and Father 'Wocky' Towers, both of whom had spent nearly all their lives at Ushaw and had both ended up as Spiritual Directors. 
The remaining windows are of the Reading Room where the Orals were held, of which I have already spoken; for one year, in Rhetoric, I think, I was Librarian of the Reading Room.  Not a very onerous job - I had to keep the place tidy and maintain a decorous silence.
On the other side of the front door the ground floor windows all belonged to Divines' Playroom, the common room used by the four years of Divinity for common 'down-time', for smoking, playing billiards and table tennis, and occasionally listening to the radio (only at approved times and on approved channels!).
Behind these rooms there was the length of the Main or Front Ambulacrum, which looked out onto the central quadrangle. Opposite the front door there was the Sedes Sapientiae - but more about that later.
On the second floor, which was named President's Gallery,  the rooms were all occupied by professors.  The President had the three windows over the front door, and the most senior profs had the rooms on either side overlooking the front.  There was a Grand Staircase leading from the Front Ambulacrum up to the President's Gallery, nicely carpeted, which we students were not allowed to use.
The gallery above President's Gallery was called Top, and as you can see from the size of the windows these rooms were mainly for students or junior profs.  This was originally the height of the building, but the very top floor was added later when numbers expanded, and it was given the name Tip-Top.
Behind the main building was the quadrangle, and two other ambulacra were built from either end of the main building to form a square around the quad.  These two ambulacra, the East and the West, were made up of classrooms, the Professor's Dining Room and Playrooms.
Above the West Ambulacrum, the gallery of student's (and some profs) rooms was called Hell, because these rooms had pianos in them where students could practise each evening - sometimes the combined noise from a dozen pianos was absolutely excruciating. The gallery was well-named!  Above this gallery, there was another with student rooms, whose name I have completely forgotten (even though I had a room here for a year).  Surely someone can remind me of that name.
Above the East Ambulacrum, there was a dormitory for the younger students; maybe forty youngsters were crammed into wooden-partitioned bed-spaces with a curtained entrance, a bed and a chest of drawers.  This area has now been turned into en suite rooms for visitors.  Nothing was en suite in my time! Not even for the President!
On the northern side of the quad, there were two large wash-places, with cold water in my day, where students from the East Dorm came to get washed. On the other side of the ambulacrum was the Refectory, the kitchens and the Hall (where the Readings Up were held).  What is now the Hall was originally the site of the College chapel. 
I think that this quadrangle and the buildings around it was the whole of the College when it was first established in 1808, until a President called Monsignor Newsham  (President from 1837 to 1863)decided to make the College into the premier Catholic college in England.  Amongst other things he built St Cuthbert's Chapel, the Hall and the Junior House.  He is often called the second founder of Ushaw.

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